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Title: The drinker with the writing problem: Brendan Behan's anecdotes of alcoholism
Authors: Lynch, C
Keywords: Alcoholic addiction;Writing problem;Brendan Behan
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Citation: Irish University Review, 44(1): 165 - 181, (May 2014)
Abstract: Half a century after his death Brendan Behan is, all too frequently, remembered for the addiction which killed him. Throughout the multiple biographical portraits and references in popular culture, Behan's reputation as a bon viveur often outweighs his legacy as a writer. Biographical representations of Behan the alcoholic include the child drinker, the harmless entertainer, and the self-destructive artist best known for his ‘open-necked shirt, his cursing, his drunkenness in public, his contempt for convention’ (O'Connor 1970, p.294). While Behan's reputation as a ‘drinker with a writing problem’ is variously interpreted, the narrative form in which it is recalled is surprisingly constant. This essay is focused around the subject of Behan's drinking and the anecdotes used to document and recall it. Widely discredited as incoherent and self-interested, Brendan Behan's Island (1962) and Brendan Behan's New York (1964) are, with good reason, regularly rejected as aberrations in Behan's oeuvre. Yet, as will be argued here, they are valuable precisely because they narrate the experience of alcoholic demise.
ISSN: 0021-1427
Appears in Collections:Dept of Arts and Humanities Research Papers

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